Monday, September 11, 2017

Customer Service and Selling: A Winning Combination

Cannabis retail, from medical dispensaries to recreational stores, is a new twist on a traditional and valued sector of the economy. While the future of federal marijuana legalization remains uncertain, building a strong foundation utilizing proven sales and customer service techniques can help legitimize and destigmatize the industry.

Amazing strides are made every year in the marijuana industry. New retail stores and dispensaries are opening all the time. With all the competition, attracting and keeping loyal customers is essential. Using selling techniques in tandem with excellent customer service is the best way to keep the edge in an ever-changing landscape. 

Sales and Service: The Ultimate Power Couple

Traditional views on sales and customer service often set the two in separate categories, though both are required, not only in retail but in many other sectors in the public and private spheres. From Fortune 500 companies to the local corner store, selling and service go hand in hand.

Sometimes customers know exactly what they want, they require less information and more service with a smile. Other times customers have a vague idea but need a knowledgeable associate to make a more informed decision. There are also customers that enjoy a short conversation about the cannabis industry or local and federal laws. Often you will find consumers fall somewhere between these extremes.

To meet the needs of each customer will require sales and customer service skills. Focus on customer satisfaction, helping people is the heart of service. Find the win-win solution. There is a balance between making the sale and great customer service. If you are unable to meet the needs of your customer, guiding them toward a potential solution is another simple way of pairing sales and service. People remember above and beyond service and give loyalty to businesses that treat them right.

Training the Team

You know sales and service are a winning combination, but how can you be sure your whole team is working with the same set of tools? The simple answer is training.

In 2008, Starbucks famously shut every single store in the United States for one afternoon to focus on retraining every staff member. The brand was important and Starbucks wanted consistency in drink making nationwide. Part customer service, part marketing, this was an important step for the company to maintain and build customer loyalty. Knowing that a customer could get the same latte in Portland, Oregon as Portland, Maine was more important than an afternoon of sales nationwide.

Having a standard training protocol in place is beneficial to businesses of every size. Employees will know exactly what you expect of them and they will have the tools necessary to succeed. Customers will appreciate the uniform service from every team member. In addition, streamlined training will get your new employees to the level of sales and service you need.

Training specifically for sales helps employees understand how to close with conviction but also provides insight into the connection between serving and selling. Holding mandatory trainings to keep your employees up to date on any changes in the local and federal cannabis laws gives them the expertise your customers expect.

All too often the old stereotype of the huckster salesman with the stiff hair and cheap suit permeates modern culture. A profitable business requires selling and marketing but those words don't have to conjure images of crafty confidence men. Selling doesn't have to be slick or shady. Informative, friendly staff are the ultimate goal of combining sales and service.

By recognizing that service is selling and selling is good service, retail stores and dispensaries will grow profits while building a loyal customer base.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

3 Ways Dispensaries Can Improve The Customer Experience

3 Ways Dispensaries Can Improve The Customer Experience

As the world is waking up to the scientific truth concerning cannabis, more and more places around the world are beginning to loosen the laws prohibiting its sale and use. As these jurisdictions begin to allow dispensaries to open their doors to the public, whether for medical or recreational sales, owners of these dispensaries are faced with the challenge of entering a whole new sort of business that requires them to rethink customer service as a whole.  

In many places where selling and using cannabis legally is still a new idea, dispensary owners must set the bar high in order to quell the remaining stigmas that hover over their heads. This means they must train their employees, such as the budtender, on market specific etiquettes that not only shine a positive light on the industry itself but also provides their customers with professional, quality service.   

1. Always Keep Staff and Yourself Up-To-Date  

It isn't only important to keep abreast about what is going on within your dispensary, but you must stay vigilant of new cannabis trends, regulations, and ordinances in your area and around the country. This is still a new ball game, which means there are opponents still working to reverse cannabis laws. Not only that, but law makers are tweaking things as they go. 

Being able to inform customers and hold insightful conversations with them shows them you know your business. The legalization of cannabis throughout the U.S. has literally created millions of new consumers over night, and a whole new sort of market that never existed openly until now. These same consumers may be seeking knowledge and understanding concerning everything from local and federal laws to the specific health benefits or the cannabis plant. 

2. Train Your Budtender in Good Customer Service

As touched on above, the stigma associated with cannabis isn't going away simply because some laws were passed. We have decades of social engineering to thank for that. This means you and your employees must hold yourself to a certain standard of customer service, just like any other business.
Customers may come in for the cannabis you are selling, but in all honesty, the style and attitude of your budtender are what gives your dispensary that good or negative energy. That personal experience they get when dealing with your budtender will be a huge driving force behind whether or not they return. Therefore, be sure they get sufficient customer service training. 

In addition, a big part of a budtender's job is to be well versed in the correct ways to interact with the public. Believe it or not (or maybe you already know), everyone in town is looking at you. Especially if you are a dispensary who has recently opened in an area that never had one before. 

3. Keep Your Brand Image Clean  

Cannabis and cannabis products are nature's way of curing us of illness or relieving us of discomfort caused by illnesses. These products manage chronic conditions and improve health. Getting "wasted" is only the side effect. With that said, every medicine has a side effect, some that are far worse and more dangerous than cannabis ever could be. 

In order to keep your dispensary's image clean, you and your employees must always remain professional. Be sure you don't have budtenders who are saying things like, "Now this one right here ... you will be so blazed!" That would be like a doctor prescribing sleeping medications and saying, "This right here! You'll be knocked out for hours." Even in a recreational market where some consumers just want the high, it is important to stay professional and always ask questions first to determine their need.

The whole idea of selling cannabis and its by-products still makes people uncomfortable - it is still viewed as a "counterculture." Your employees should always be aware that not everyone who visits may be there to buy cannabis, but to take notes - or to prove that dispensaries are unprofessional and irresponsible. That's why knowing the exact medical terms and keeping that health-and-wellness image is very important.